The EPR Arms is an imaginary pub, very close to a busy hospital,where Sean Brennan invites you to join him every month. The EPR arms web site will extend the discussions that the "Down at the EPR Arms" articles published in the bjhc&im* may have stimulated.
EPR is the acronym for Electronic Patient Records - a collective term used to generally describe the Information Management and Technology (IM&T) issues associated with supporting the delivery of clinical care. Using computers and information technology in the health service has been difficult and it is with great frustration that the potential advantages of clinical IM&T have not yet been realised in the NHS. There are many reasons for this, and in fact there are pockets of excellence throughout the NHS where enthusiasts have delivered real clinical benefit from IM&T. However, and unfortunately, it is not the norm.
It was against this back-drop of failure that the new Information strategy for health "Information for Health" was developed in 1998. This common-sense and well accepted document has stood the test of time with it's values and objectives as valid now as they were eight years ago.
But it is the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) that has moved health informatics up a gear or two. This new approach has not only revolutionised the procurement of IT in the NHS (with it's rapid contract negotiations and huge discounts), but has moved health informatics up the national agenda.
The National Programme is now being delivered through Connecting for Health and is constantly in the headlines for "slippage". Let us be realistic: there will be slippage. There will be complications and delays. Why? Because it is the most ambitious complicated change management and computer programme in the world......ever!
Some may argue that awarding huge contracts to a handful of suppliers is a dangerous approach as the suppliers not awarded the contracts will have to re-consider their market and may well look at other sectors. What happens then if the "biggies" don't deliver? "They won't get paid!" may well be the response from the Programme, but how will that affect the NHS ?
Watch this space.
But it is an extremely ambitious programme and we must get behind it and if we have any legitimate and constructive comments to make - let's make them!
This web site will attempt to report on implementation of IM&T in the Health Service. It will do this through any number of visitors to the EPR Arms, and the discussions and conversations will be those suggested by you. If you would like to stimulate a conversation, or introduce a character, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The web site will continue to grow and hopefully will become a useful point of reference for you whatever your IM&T needs are. Papers, presentation material and conference information will be made available to you in one site. If you have struggled with your search for health informatics information, the style and approach adopted by the EPR Arms web site will indeed make it a site for sore eyes! If you have any suggestions for how the site can be improved, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Finally, the EPR Arms articles first started back in March 2001. In March 2006, the doors to the EPR Arms were locked forever - A Lock-Out !
Why? Because after five years there was gong to be a degree of repetition as some of the fundamental principles discussed way back in 2001 were still issues today. Rather than go over old ground with the same audience, it was considered time to call last orders for the journal.
This web site however will continue to be updated, so fear not! The EPR Arms will continue to exist - at least here - in cyberspace.
Best wishes to you all.